Imagine that a simple photo of your wheat, with just a few bits of additional information, can accurately predict future yield. A new app, called the Kansas Wheat Yield Calculator App, is allowing this to happen with ease from smart devices.

The app was produced by graduate researchers at Kansas State University and is available now in its basic form. Ray Asebedo, graduate student in the Department of Agronomy, and Trevor Rife, graduate student in the Department of Plant Pathology, developed the app with support from the Kansas Wheat Alliance.

Asebedo said although the app is available now for wheat growers to download, plans are in place to enhance its capabilities. The main goal of the app is to help growers year-round make agronomic and economic decisions. The app is free and available to anyone with iPhone and Android devices.

“We’ve designed it with the purpose that you can use it throughout the growing season,” Asebedo said. “In early fall, you can use it to assess your fall tillering. You can decide if enough tillers developed to meet your yield goals or if you need to make some strategic changes.”

“In the springtime and through heading, you can assess how your crop is developing and how that yield is changing under the different environmental conditions you might incur throughout the growing season,” he added.

How it works

When a grower opens the downloaded app, he or she must enter the field name, number of acres and county, Rife said. For each field, the grower can enter various samples. Each sample requires information on the feekes stage, row width and number of tillers per foot.

Then the growers can take a picture to add to that sample. Many samples can be taken throughout the field, he said, and equations built into the app produce estimations of yield for that specific field based on the entered samples. The app works with all wheat varieties.

“You can take multiple samples in a single field and also have multiple fields,” Rife said. “You can store each of those samples and get complete field averages across different fields at different locations.”

The app was designed to be easy for growers to use, Asebedo said, as many of them have a lot of acres to cover. The idea to is to assess more fields quickly and accurately.

“You don’t want to have an instruction manual to run it,” he said. “We’re trying to make it have as few screens as possible. As we continue updating this app, we’re changing the interface to make it even more intuitive.”

During the winter, growers can consider using the app to determine their top-dress nitrogen plans. If a lot of fall tillers are out there, odds are the grower has enough nitrogen in the soil, Asebedo said.

“You’ll have some wheat fields that have adequately tillered for 40 to 50 bushel (per acre) wheat,” he said. “They could have four to five tillers per plant, so the nitrogen management plan is working fine. (The growers) don’t necessarily need to top dress a lot to help spur spring tillers.”

“But, what we saw last year were a number of wheat fields did not tiller adequately in the fall due to being overly dry,” he continued. “I had many people wanting me to take a look at their fields and help them decide what to do in the spring. A lot of people like to top dress late February or early March, so usually it takes a little higher nitrogen application to help spur some additional spring tillers to make up for that gap and meet your end yield.”

Asebedo estimates an updated version of the app will be available in the spring of 2015. Growers interested in downloading the app now can search for “Kansas Wheat Yield Calculator” in their app store.

K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.